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Fourth-grader educates others about Tourrette Syndrome

Bradley Wilinski his room with his dog Thomas. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

Bradley Wilinski in his room with his dog Thomas. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 22, 2013 2:42AM

GURNEE — When Bradley Wilinski, 13, was in fourth grade, some of his classmates were teasing him about his tics. They didn’t understand why he was making noises, so Bradley spoke to his class and eight other classes to educate them about Tourrette Syndrome (TS). He was diagnosed at age 7.

“I have tics, body movements I can’t control. It’s like having hiccups or an itch or sneezing. It’s not the worst condition in the world,” Bradley said.

Bradley was selected as a 2013 Illinois Youth Ambassador for Tourrette Syndrome Association and continues to educate others about TS. As an ambassador, Bradley joined other student ambassadors across the country in Washington, D.C., for training sessions on how to be a speaker. He will be called upon to visit schools and organizations to speak about the disorder.

TS is a neurological disorder which causes three of every 1,000 children ages 6 to 17 in the U.S. to have tics, movements/sounds they can’t control, according to Centers for Disease Control. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and change over time.

Bradley said his symptoms are stress-induced. He said kids stopped giving him a hard time once he educated them.

“(I speak) so people are not clueless about it. They know it’s not so bad,” Bradley said. “I say it’s something I can’t help.”

Featured in a full-length documentary about TS in 2012, Bradlety was also featured in a 12-minute educational video that is played in classrooms.

When he is not educating others, he enjoys playing basketball. He also enjoys skiing, fencing and volleyball, and does yoga for stress relief.

He said he hopes to own a clothing store in New York when he grows up.

“We’re just really impressed he can speak to others and help others understand that Tourrette’s doesn’t have to impair your life in any way,” his mom Jan Wilinski said.

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